Experts on recovery in the Portland area are hoping to change the way people see addiction by changing the way we talk about it.
“Language is really powerful,” Kelli Fox, LCSW, CCS, LADC, assistant clinical professor and director of Field Education in the School of Social Work, told WGME. “How we approach someone, and the kind of messages we send, can impact how someone feels.”
According to Fox, saying a person has a substance use disorder, rather than calling them an addict, can influence whether or not that person would continue treatment.
“When you use words like ‘junkie,’ or people being ‘clean’ or ‘not clean,’ it can dehumanize them,” she said. “It can be dismissive of how hard it is for someone to be in recovery.”
Fox says it comes down to the basic idea that everyone wants to be treated with respect.
Fox appeared on WGME as part of the station’s series of reports called State of Addiction.